One of the best kept secrets of the Florida Panhandle.
This is an inlet bay on the Western side of Tyndall Air Force Base. No high rises or condos.
You put in at the public boat ramp near a research lab.
Paddle to the right (North West)as the inlet widens to about 1/3 of a mile. It is fairly well protected at this point and a nice easy paddle. The total length of the inlet is about 9 mi and about 1/3 mi wide at the ends and 0.7 mi wide in the middle.
About 2 1/2 mi up on the left you will see the trees thinning on the west side (ocean side). When you see a diamond shaped sign put in and explore a WWII 50 Cal range once used by Clark Gable during his gunnery training. You can walk around in the open sand between the trees and find 50 cal slugs sitting on top of the sand. You may have to work your way inland, but just keep looking for open spots to go to.
Back in the boat head around the point into the widest part of the inlet. In the shallows you can find everything from sea urchins to stingrays beneath your boat.
This is one of my favorite parts as the trees go down and it is only a sand dune between you and the gulf. At points it's almost like the elevated pools popular in Malibu and you can't tell where the Gulf ends and the bay begins.
Paddling north west again about a mile or so you come to the inlet from the Gulf. The inlet is about 1 mi across and has sand bars on either side which are popular for fishing (including hammerheads). They are also the best place to find huge amounts of shells and sand dollars. Some people have found large conchs.
Crossing the inlet can be bumpy at times with 1-2 ft swells, but you can use the eastern side of the bay if it makes you uncomfortable.
On the other side of the inlet is more untouched nature except for the drone launch facility. I am pretty certain the area is closed off during launches, but on week days you can see F-15s, F-22s and F-4s coming into Tyndall. If an F-4 comes in over your head while you are here chances are it is flying by remote control.
I have seen plenty of dolphins and even a large sea turtle once (about 4 ft long). Over all it is an easy and enjoyable paddle with a fishing boat on occassion, but otherwise just the crashing of the Gulf waves to keep you company.
Nothing at Boat Ramp
Mexico Beach has restaurants, a Subway and convenience stores. This is about 3 mi from the boat ramp.
Head North out of Mexico Beach on Hwy 98 towards Tyndall AFB.
About 2.7 mi you will see a road on the Left hand side that will have an Air Force Research sign -- take this road. The road will eventually turn towards the lab, but a gravel road will go STRAIGHT at this point to the boat ramp.
Just Google Earth or Google Map "Mexico Beach, FL"